Artichoke Gainfully Employs Howard Stern Wack Packers

High Pitch Eric: "He can eat."
High Pitch Eric: “He can eat.” Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

“Howard Stern” personality Steve Grillo is still pouring baba-bubbly on Mondays at the Bowery Wine Co., and now he’s taken the pizza-making skills he honed at Vinny Vincenz over to Artichoke. Owner Francis Garcia tells us Grillo, who lives a few blocks from the East Village location, is doing shifts there, as well as at the other two locations, as a “bounce around pizza guy slash assistant manager.” Customers have already taken notice: “People come in and come behind the counter and ask, ‘Can we take a picture with him?’” And Grillo isn’t the only Wack Packer that Artichoke has taken under its wing.

“Stern” listeners who call the Chelsea location will hear a highly familiar voice: “Hello, I’m High Pitch Eric,” goes the recording. “You’ve reached Artichoke Basille’s Pizza & Bar.” Garcia tells us that when Howard Stern renewed his contract for five years, he agreed to give High Pitch (already a regular customer) five free years of pizza in return for the outgoing message. “He comes whenever he’s in Manhattan,” says Garcia. “I think he lives up in the Bronx. He’s not shy — he can eat, too.” (Well, anyone who’s seen him half-nude could guess that.) What’s more, Garcia has hired another Stern regular, the notorious Ivy Supersonic, to pour beer at the East Village store. “She tries to sell all of our customers her T-shirts that say ‘FINANCIALLY CHALLENGED.’” The real question: Have the Artichoke boys bro’d down Stern himself? Apparently not. Garcia says he sent some pies up to the studio the other day, but they didn’t make it into Howard’s stomach. “He eats everything organic — he doesn’t eat pizza.”